Get Off Your “But” and Follow Jesus!
Luke 9:57-62, 1 Kings 19:19-21
† I. H. S. †
May the grace and mercy of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ sustain you as you walk “in His steps”
Are you listening? Are you understanding?
you ever asked someone if they were listening, and 30 seconds after they
replied yes, they ask you “what are you talking about?”
I think that happened to Jesus, far more than it happens to us.
It does today, as one man offers to follow Jesus, and two others responded to His invitation to follow him, but they then realized they had a problem. They all had a big “but!” Uhm – that’s but with only one T.
As we look at the call to follow, as we begin to really
hear Jesus, I pray we come to understand what it means to follow Him, or as the
apostle Peter wrote,
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 (NLT2)
The Big BUTS
So the first guy tells Jesus, I will follow you wherever you go! Jesus tells him, “okay, here is the challenge, we have no support, no place to stay, no place to sleep.” Oddly we don’t’ hear from the guy again.
Following Jesus isn’t easy or comfortable.
The second and third guys clearly describe their “buts”.
One wants to go home and take care of his dying Father. The second wants to go home and make significant arrangements for his family’s care, cutting off their need for his involvement in their life.
How many of us would have similar issues to deal with? I mean, before Jesus asks us to go with Him to China, or Jordan, or Papua, New Guinea? And how many of us have relationship issues that would make leaving with Jesus complicated?
Those “buts” aren’t easy to deal with, and to turn down an invitation to go with Jesus is heartbreaking, or it should be. I mean if you knew Jesus was going to be at the ordination I am officiating at this afternoon, would you drop everything and come with me? What about if you could meet him on Pastor Bernie’s next trip to the Sudan, but you had to leave today?
What if it required moving to Turkey and working alongside Christina for the rest of your life? Never ever returning to the U.S.A. but you knew for sure you would encounter Jesus every day?
Could you show Jesus your “but”?
This isn’t theoretical for the people in the gospel! They had BIG BUTS, major life concerns, as they truly desire to travel with Jesus.
It’s what some would call a First commandment issue, a problem with prioritizing who is our God, who is most important in our life. Who is most involved in it. For if we can’t listen to God and respond obediently to Him, are we really in a relationship where we realize He is the God who rescues us, and we are the people He listens to, cares and provides for, and loves?
The problem is simple to fix, we just have to get off our “but” and follow Jesus. Follow Him, not travel with Him. If the people had listened to what Jesus said, they would have understood the difference.
What’s the difference? Glad you asked!
The Elisha Example!
In the Old Testament passage, we see Elisha also responding to a call to follow, as Elijah makes him his successor. That’s why he threw his cloak over him, that is what you symbolically did back in those days.
But Elisha goes back to his people. He takes care of business, and isn’t rejected by Elijah, the way it seems Jesus rejected those who had big “buts”.
But look at what Elisha did carefully, and you will see he was already following Elijah as he goes back. He takes his old stuff, the plow, the oxen and uses those things to minister to people.
What the invitation really is
You see, the word for follow doesn’t mean travel with, it means begin to imitate Him. To become like, to gain the attitudes and heart and desire of the person you “follow”. There is a word to walk with, but this is far more, it is another word like disciple, or apprentice.
It is to know Jesus is on the journey with us, shaping us, forming us, sending us out to where He would have us minister. Like the man he delivered from the clutches of demons, often the place is where we call home, sharing the news of God’s mercy with those we love and care about, with those whose lives are broken, and spiritually dead.
Following Jesus is not just physical, it is more, it is transformative, it is incarnational, it is beholding His glory and knowing He dwells among us.
This is what His invitation to believers is about, it is life lived in His presence, hearing His voice, learning to care for and love people as He does. That is what it means to walk in His steps, to live life the way He does, and we do that by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Lord, help us see the “buts” not as challenges to following You, but as places where You bring us to minister and care for other, with you at our side.